|Japanese Tea House, Gude Garden, Brookside Gardens|
Brookside Gardens was opened in 1969 after four years of planning and development by the Maryland‑ National Capital Park and Planning Commission as part of the Wheaton Regional Park system. The Gardens are located on a site formerly owned by Stadler Nursery. At that time, Brookside Gardens occupied only 25 acres, and consisted of a conservatory, three formal gardens, a wedding gazebo and an azalea garden. Some original plants from the Stadler Nursery collection still thrive.
|Wedding gazebo, Brookside Gardens|
The Visitors Center, made possible by a generous donation, was opened in 1998. It houses an information desk, library, classrooms, auditorium, gift shop and offices. Unless you only intend to see the Conservatory, this is the place to begin your visit. More parking is available near the Visitors Center than elsewhere.
|Chrysanthemum Craftsmanship display, Brookside Gardens|
The Garden of Lights Winter Walk-through Holiday Light Display begins late November and continues into the first week of January. There's an evening entrance fee of $20 or $25 per car. Weekend visits cost most. For those who don't like being in cramped cars stuck in slow traffic for interminable drive-through light displays, this is the way to go. If the cold gets to you, duck into the warm Conservatory to enjoy the Winter Display and Model Train Exhibit.
We return to Brookside Gardens often because there's so much to see in every season. Winter's snow sometimes mantles the gardens with frozen silence. But even if there's no snow, the stark outlines and earthy colors are appealing. Organic patterns and textures are more easily seen and appreciated in winter. Red ilex berries and yellow tree fruits pop against drab background colors. So do the scarlet lines of dogwood stems in winter.
Fall at Brookside Gardens descends with a blaze of glory. Wonderful colors, like these of Parthenocissus tricuspidata 'Fenway Park', and tracery of Schizophragma hydrangoides cover walls. Then the cycle begins again.
|Hydrangea quercifolia, Brookside Gardens|
Regardless of the season, the Conservatory is always a pleasure to visit. It houses many of my favorites such as Cymbidium orchids, Heliconia, and Clerodendrum.
|Heliconia angusta 'Holiday'|
This is a link to Brookside Gardens web site to get directions, learn more, and help you plan your visit.